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Dunbar's strong attack starts up front Lines responsible for team winning


They are a not so lean, very mean, tough blocking and tackling machine.

From 6-foot-5, 320-pound Derrick Player to 6-0, 220-pound Jamar Elliott, the Dunbar High line has been almost impenetrable on defense and almost unstoppable on offense as the Poets have rolled to five straight victories and taken several steps toward their first Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title since 1985.

Dunbar has notched three straight shutouts, last week completely frustrating a Patterson team, 30-0, that was ranked fifth and averaging nearly 40 points a game.

The Poets' backs are talented, but the boys up front have made them thrive.

"We have a nice sized line," said coach Pete Pompey. "They complement each other very well and make few mistakes."

"We've been playing together three years, so we know how each other is going to block," said senior Keith Washington, a 5-10, 230-pounder who starts at offensive guard and defensive end, but also plays tackle. "And the defensive line is a bunch of animals. We've developed a lot of pride and aggressiveness."

Dunbar normally lines up with Player, Washington, Elliott (junior), Vashawn Ragsdale (5-8, 220-pound senior) and 6-2 senior Darrell Jones, the lightweight at 206 pounds, when the other team has the ball.

Though Patterson threatened often, the Poets forced key fumbles, shut down the inside running game and constantly pressured young quarterback, Willie McGirt, into mistakes.

"We're not that small, and they just totally controlled our fronts," said Clipper coach Roger Wrenn. "I was impressed with their line . . . and their entire defense."

They did most of it without Player, who suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter and never returned to the game. He is expected to play this week against Northwestern.

Player, a junior, has been starting since he was a freshman.

He said he "has an advantage because most guys are smaller than me. Some of them probably are intimidated. Basically, my job is to find the ball."

Dunbar has four B Conference games remaining -- with Northwestern, Mervo, Northern and Walbrook -- and looks like the conference favorite after defeating Patterson.

And, although Pompey has a number of excellent players at the skill positions, the line has been the catalyst.

"The line is not that much bigger than normal," said Pompey. "Derrick drives that average up and takes us over the limit. But they've done a good job and we've gotten some help from an undefeated jayvee team."

No longer does Dunbar have to wait until the basketball season to taste the glory. The big guys up front are seeing to that.

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